Christmas 2016: the Search…

imageIf you were a shepherd living a couple of thousand years ago then this is where and how you could Jesus. “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”” (Luke 2:9–12, ESV)

“It did not take ISIS long to say where its sights are set next, following the devastating terror attacks in Paris. Three days after hitting the French Capital, the terror group says it plans to strike in Washington, D.C. The threat comes in a video that has not yet been authenticated, but it specifically references Friday night’s massacre that claimed more than 130 lives.” (WXYZ, ABC Television News)

“The modern church seems fragmented and divided. By some estimates, 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations exist worldwide. The numbers seem to clash with Paul’s description of the church as Christ’s body (Ephesians 1:22–23) and God’s temple (Ephesians 2:19–22). He stresses that believers should be united in Christ—can the modern Church, with its thousands of separate denominations, really display the type of unity Paul writes about in Ephesians?” (Miles Custis, (2014). Ephesians: Transformed in Christ (p. 5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press)

This is not a couple of thousand years ago it’s 2016 and we’re not going to find Jesus as a baby “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” After considering the quotes appearing above you would have a hard time trying to find a time when the need to search for Jesus has been higher. The secret (if I can use the word secret) to ending the 2016 search for Jesus is strongly implied by author of Frank Viola. “The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest lover under God’s heaven. No creature can match Him as a passionate romantic. And His love and passion are aimed at one person: His bride, of which you and I are a part. As such, the Lord has a restless desire to pour out the torrential love that has been imprisoned in His heart. He has an intense drive born out of a holy obsession to lavish that love upon His beloved bride— the supreme object of His being. Consequently, what grieves Him the most is when she does not accept that love. Therein lies the tension of a frustrated God.” (Viola, Frank. From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God (pp. 61-62). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition)

“As such, the Lord has a restless desire to pour out the torrential love that has been imprisoned in His heart… Consequently, what grieves Him the most is when she does not accept that love.” Within those two sentences is a secret hidden so deep in our hearts it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring it to “light”. The secret? Our search for Jesus begins and ends in Jesus’ search for us. I am sure you remember the first time Mary and Joseph took a 12 year old Jesus to Jerusalem and a couple days after heading back home the could not find Jesus. Then after returning to Jerusalem they searched for Jesus. After finding him in the temple complex they chastised him. His reply to them not only set the record straight for them but for us as well. “And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”” (Luke 2:49, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Viola reduces “My Father’s business” to its basic meaning when he wrote, “The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest lover under God’s heaven.” In other words the Father sent the Son into the world to LOVE. The Apostle John put it this way, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17, NKJV, emphasis mine)

If ever there was a doubt in your mind as to who is really searching for who, Frank Viola does a great job of removing all doubt (at least in my mind). “As such, the Lord has a restless desire to pour out the torrential love that has been imprisoned in His heart. He has an intense drive born out of a holy obsession to lavish that love upon His beloved bride…” However, having said that I am not suggesting we can discontinue our search, or that all we need to do is sit in our recliners and wait, or we allow ourselves to become so disillusioned by the unrest in the world, or become frustrated because of the lack of unity in the Christian Community we give up. Our search for Jesus is just as real as Jesus’ search for us but there is a big difference, a difference made in heaven.

Our search is FOR love. Jesus’ search is to GIVE love. There are times when the two search components that comprise Christmas 2016: the Search seem to be a hide and go seek game. For reasons known only you and to me for some reason we either reject the love Jesus wants to give us or we do not allow it to go deep enough, yet Jesus is unrelenting in trying to give us not only the LOVE of God but the LIFE of God as well.

I have a question you need to answer not for me, nor for anyone else. It’s a question only you can answer because you are the only one who can. Please don’t get the idea that the question is not for you because IT IS for you, and you, and you, and you, and me too.

Why haven’t you given yourself completely over to Jesus’ love? Why are you running away from Jesus’ love? (That’s actually 2 questions.)

As I’ve stated those questions are for all of us and the apostle Paul made them binding when he wrote, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NKJV) However, it is quite possible that we may never (at least in this life) give ourselves completely over to Jesus’ love. I say that not to give us an excuse for quitting our search but to challenge us to keep searching Christmas, after Christmas, Easter after Easter, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year, until the day when we open our eyes and find ourselves living in heaven. The bible is full of scriptures that reassure us that God’s LOVE is available completely HERE and NOW. Here is just a sampling.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” (Romans 5:5–7, NKJV)

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 16–19, NKJV)

Our world God has a gift for you this Christmas. His name is Jesus and he comes gift wrapped in your heart. So please as time works off each day between now and Christmas begin today and day-by-day unwrapping him. I can assure you as each layer falls away the warmth and the power of God’s LOVE will become warmer and stronger.

Grace and PEACE,

Gary

Scripture quotations marked ESV “Are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Scriptures marked NKJV have been taken from The New King James Version. (1982). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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